/SCOTUS rules religious groups exempt from Obamacare mandate on contraception health coverage

SCOTUS rules religious groups exempt from Obamacare mandate on contraception health coverage


The court ruled 7-2 in a case involving the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled 7-2 in favor of religious groups on the question of access to oral contraception under the Affordable Care Act, saying they were exempt from the Obamacare health care law provision that guarantees free contraceptive services.

The opinion was written by Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh. Elena Kagan filed a concurring opinion in the judgment, in which Stephen Breyer joined. Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, in which Sonia Sotomayor joined.

The Trump administration had challenged whether an organization that raises moral or religious objections to providing contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act could be exempt.

The decision comes on the heels of the Trump administration formally calling on the high court to strike down the Affordable Care Act entirely.

The case of Trump v. Pennsylvania, and a related one, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, mark the third time the ACA’s contraceptive coverage requirement has reached the Supreme Court.

Millions of women currently obtain birth control at no cost through their employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates up to 126,400 women could lose access to those services in one year since the Trump administration exemption is upheld.

“This leaves women to hunt for other government programs that might cover them,” Ginsburg said in oral arguments in May, “which is exactly what Congress didn’t want to happen.”

The ACA, enacted in 2010, requires insurers to include “preventive care and screenings” as part of “minimal essential coverage,” leaving it up to HHS to define what services qualify. All FDA-approved female contraceptives were included under the initial guidelines.

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby that “closely held for-profit businesses” cannot be required to provide contraceptive coverage over their religious objections. Wednesday’s decision accepted a more sweeping notion.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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